Karley and Lindsay Boleen; Lara and Abby Steinhoff; Josie and Jenny Thill; Savannah and Kassity Swanson; and Emma and Meghan Matthiesen (submitted photo)
The idea of creating a family-like bond on a high school sports team is being taken to an exceptional level in Forest Lake, which has five sets of sisters in its girls’ soccer program.
Emma Matthiesen, a senior, is a center midfielder. Younger sister Meghan, a junior, is an outside midfielder. Savannah Swanson, a senior captain, plays outside or center midfield. Younger sister Kassity, a sophomore, is a utility player who can fit in anywhere. Senior captain Lara Steinhoff is the Rangers’ leading scorer. Her younger sister Abby, a sophomore, is a defender.
The Thill sisters — Josie and Jenny — play on the junior varsity squad alongside Karley and Lindsay Boleen.
The sisters are not only playing together. They’re often paired up together on one side of the field.
Practicing at home and on the same teams for all these years has helped all of them become better players. Equally important, it’s helped establish strong chemistry for the Rangers.
“It kind of forms this connection,” said Emma Matthiesen, speaking of Meghan. “I know exactly where she’s going to be and how fast she’s going to be to get there. I know the place to put it when I’m going to pass it to her. Usually with other people it takes time to get used to their type of playing style. With Meghan, it’s always the same thing.”
It’s so noticeable, co-coach Amanda Hansen will even position the lineup accordingly. Hansen will move the girls next to each other on the field when the situation calls for it.
“It makes a difference, whether people believe in that or not,” Hansen said. “I can tell the difference when they’re next to each other on the field. I think sisters and brothers are on a different level sometimes. They can read each other. I think that helps in the anticipation and transitions of the play. All of the sisters seem like they have that sixth sense when they’re on the field together.”
The sister bond has also helped from a motivational perspective. The older sisters always tend to be harder on the younger ones.
“We always want our little sisters to be the best they can be at the position that they play,” Emma Matthiesen said. “We’re really hard on them, but when they make that perfect play, it’s the best thing ever. Because she’s not only my teammate, she’s my little sister.”
The soccer talk doesn’t stop once they leave the field. There’s more chatter at home.
The sisters always are talking about what they can do to improve. They come home and work on passing and other skills. Or they’ll just sit and talk about upcoming opponents and strategy for future games.
“It’s always good to have that one person that isn’t afraid to tell you the mistakes you’ve made and what you need to do to improve on them,” Matthiesen said.
With five consecutive victories to start the season and a 6-2 record through Tuesday’s game, the sister effect is fueling one of the best starts in years for Forest Lake. The Suburban East Conference will present a tough road ahead for the Rangers, but early momentum has put the Rangers on a promising path toward a successful season.
“I have high hopes for the girls,” Hansen said. “It’s a good team this year. I think they’re all maturing and getting better skill-wise and their work ethic is great. It’s all showing on the field.”